Oh, the walk in the woods the day before Christmas. The birthday cake that's become your yearly ritual...and the recurring hope when you blow the candles out that you willa ctually, someday, become a spy...Wait, what? Sorry, that was too much information.
My point being that we all have our special traditions that we link to specific seasons or times of the year. It goes far beyond the ubiquitous Thanksgiving turkey: for some, it's all about apple-picking on that special family weekend, or biting into your first lobster roll of the Summer.
serves 6 to 8
for the tart crust (makes extra dough, enough for one or two tartelettes):
250g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
85g (1/3 cup) confectioner's sugar
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped
125g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
25g (1 3/4 TB) almond powder
4g (1 TS) salt
Beat butter with a mixer or by hand until fluffly. Add confectioner's sugar, almond powder, salt, vanilla "caviar", egg, and flour, one at a time and mixing well after each addition.
Dough should be pretty sticky but you should still be able to handle it. Roll it into a ball, flatten a little with the palm of your hand, and refrigerate for at least a few hours: overnight is fine. You can also freeze the dough.
When ready to use, preheat oven to 180°C/ 350°F.
Flatten the dough using a rolling pin until it is 3mm thick. Place in a buttered 22cm tart pan (that would be 8.66 inches precisely! 8 or 9-inch is fine). Cover the pan with parchment paper and pie weights. Bake crust for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove parchment paper and weights, and bake for another 10 minutes.
Set tart crust on a wire rack to cool.
for the lemon curd:
makes 2 1/2 cups, or enough for a French-sized tart
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. fresh lemon juice
8g lemon zest (approx. 1 TB)
145g (10 TB) cold butter, cut into pieces
Rub zest and sugar together.
Mix lemon juice, sugar/zest, and eggs together in a heatproof bowl. Place it over a pan of simmering water.
Cook, whisking constantly, until a thermometer reads 75°C.
Remove from heat; when temperature comes back down to 60°C, incorporate butter and mix for 5 minutes.
Cover surface with plastic wrap and set aside to let cool.
Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. When ready to use, pour into baked tart shell, bake for a little under 10 minutes for the curd to firm up, and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.